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How to Protect Your DLSR Camera In Wet Conditions or Even Underwater

August 28th, 2016

How to Protect Your DLSR Camera In Wet Conditions or Even Underwater


Recently, I found a glitch in my plans for my newest hobby - kayaking Sarasota Bay and taking high-quality photos of the birds, Dolphin, Manatee, and beautiful sights on the Bay, That glitch is that kayaking is a potentially VERY wet, salty, sandy sport and my DSLR camera shouldn't get wet, salty, or sandy! On my sit-on-top kayak, the logical place (and really, only place) to keep my camera as I paddle between shots is in my lap. BUT, my lap is guaranteed to get wet from the motion of my paddle. Plus there's always the possibility of flipping my kayak over, getting everything on board dunked in salt water.

So I worried - was my kayak a waste of money or will I have to invest more money in a waterproof DSLR? The answer: Nope! I found what I hope is the perfect solution for less than $60. I'm sharing my solution here because I'm guessing some of you might like to find a great solution for taking pictures with your expensive cameras in wet conditions, too.

With a little online research, I came across a "dry bag" for DSLR cameras with telephoto lenses (pictured here). I've also shared the link to the site where I purchased mine below. It's available on other sites, as well. What impressed me about this particular bag over others I found was the following:

* It has a hard, UV-coated, polycarbonate lens that your camera's lens "looks through" thereby providing clear, sharp pictures.
* It has finger pockets that provide access to all your camera's functionality.
* It allows use of a telephoto lens.
* It has a neck lanyard to keep your camera protected from falling.
* As a bonus, it also allows use underwater up to 33'.
* "Pro" version bags can cost well over $1,000 as compared to about $60 for this one.

I asked around on some of the online kayaking forums I've joined and found others who have used this product - some for years - and all gave it high marks for both picture quality and camera/lens protection.

Mine is expected to arrive today, so I'll test it out over the next couple of weeks and let you know if I'm as impressed with it as I hope I'll be.

Here's the link to the site where I bought mine:

Hope you found this helpful. If you've found other solutions for protecting your DSLR in wet conditions, drop me an email and we can compare notes!

Have a great rest of the summer,

Susan Molnar Fine Art Photography

Sponsored FAA Pages

May 18th, 2016

In this blog, I will be sponsoring FineArtAmerica pages that contain artwork similar to mine. The purpose of doing this is so that my own artwork appears near the top of those pages. Go to and search on any of these topics. You should find some of my prints for that topic in the third row (positions 9-12).

FAA's "Coastal Prints:"
coastal prints for sale

FAA's "Animals & Earth Photographs Prints:"
animals and earth photographs for sale

FAA's "Tropical Prints;"
tropical prints for sale

FAA's "Seaside Prints:"
seaside prints for sale

Have It Your Way

April 13th, 2016

Have It Your Way

My April, 2016 newsletter will show you how you can use the tools on my website to customize my art and make your own unique designs. Click the link below to learn these easy, step-by-step methods:


Your Photos as Watercolor Art

April 13th, 2016

Your Photos as Watercolor Art

My December, 2015 newsletter announces a new and free service I can do for you, where you send me your photos that are great memories but maybe not-so-great photo quality (such as under/over-exposed, lots of distracting details, etc.). I will improve their quality (if needed) and then turn them into watercolor or oil photo-paintings like many of the photographs in my gallery. The results will be wall-art quality prints that can be purchased for the same price as any similarly-sized print in my gallery (in other words, no charge for the extra processing). I'll even provide two to five different versions for you to choose from! The pictures here are a "Before & After" example. Read my newsletter for details - just click the link below:


Create a Sunny, Coastal Corner in Any Room

April 13th, 2016

Create a Sunny, Coastal Corner in Any Room

As winter drags on into April, now is the perfect time to bring a little beachy sunshine into a corner of your home or office.
My January, 2016 newsletter provides lots of ideas and tips for creating that sunny corner. So get rid of those winter blahs! Click the link below to read it:


Tips for Arranging Art on Your Walls

April 13th, 2016

Tips for Arranging Art on Your Walls

Ever struggle with getting a polished look when trying to arrange art groupings on your walls? You'll get tons of tips and ideas for how to arrange art on any wall in my February, 2016 newsletter. Click the link below:


Art is NOT just for Walls

March 13th, 2016

Art is NOT just for Walls


Are your walls already "full" of the artwork and family photos you love? My March '16 Newsletter shows you how you can add to the artwork in your home without crowding your walls. Click the link below - I think you'll enjoy these ideas!


Use Lightroom to Preview Art Arrangements on Your Wall Before You Hang Them

December 7th, 2015

Use Lightroom to Preview Art Arrangements on Your Wall Before You Hang Them


Ever find yourself re-hanging the pictures you just hung because the arrangement didn't look as good as you thought it would? If you have a camera (your smart phone will do fine) and Adobe Lightroom, there's an easy way to see how your pictures will look on your walls before you hang them. You'll be able to arrange and re-arrange them exactly as they'll look on your wall, before you hammer a single nail. You'll even be able to print out the final arrangement as a template if someone else is hanging your artwork for you.

Immediately below are the Do It Yourself (DIY) step-by-step instructions that require a camera and Lightroom. However, if you DON'T have Lightroom and are buying one or more of my prints, I can provide this service for you at no additional cost. Instructions for doing it that way are below the DIY instructions.

The picture above is of my living room wall with 5 prints and a mirror arranged on it. It was created using this method (it's not a photo of my wall with the artwork actually mounted on it - it's a "virtual" arrangement of the art on my wall). I created a dozen or more different arrangements with several different prints in different sizes before I settled on this arrangement that we used as a template to arrange my prints and a mirror on the wall. I printed this picture and my husband was able to hang the whole arrangement easily and without any additional input from me.

These instructions contain a lot of steps, but once you do it, you'll see that it's really pretty simple. If you have questions, feel free to contact me using the Contact link in the blue menu near the top of my website. One disclaimer: I don't pretend to be a Lightroom expert and there may be many other and better ways to do this. What I do claim is that this method works!

Step 1: Take a picture of your wall.
You'll want to take a picture of the wall where you plan to hang the art arrangement. Make sure the photo is taken looking straight at the wall, and make sure you have the whole wall where the art will hang, from ceiling to floor. Include any furniture, lamps, etc., in the picture. This way you'll be able to visualize the artwork with all the things that will be around it.

Step 2: Take straight-on pictures of each piece of art that will be in your arrangement.
If you're buying one or more of my prints, use my website to select the picture and the framing options. Even if you aren't buying the frames or mattes on my site, you can use all the options there to get the print and framing looking as close as possible to how you plan to frame the print. Once you've got the picture and framing options chosen, take a screen-shot and save it as a .jpeg. Crop the screen-shot down to just the print and frame. If you're planning to hang artwork from other sources, just take a separate picture of each piece of art. These photos should be cropped so that just the artwork and frame are included in the picture -- don't include any background.

Step 3: Import the wall photo and artwork photos into Lightroom.
Import the photos into a single folder in Lightroom. Once they're in Lightroom, you can do any additional cropping or other processing necessary.

Step 4: Use Lightroom's PRINT module to set up your wall and arrange photos on it.
1. Make sure you have ALL the artwork photos and the photo of your wall in a single Lightroom folder and that you are in that folder.
2. Click "Print" in the upper-right Lightroom menu.
3. In the left-hand toolbar, select a template from the Template Browser list. An easy one to start with is the one labeled "Custom (2) 4x6."
4. Click once inside each of the 4x6 squares in your template and press your DEL button to get rid of them.
5. Scroll down the right-hand menu to the section labeled "Print Job." In that section, make sure the "Custom File Dimensions" checkbox is checked and set the dimensions to 20.00 x 13.00.
6. Drag your photo of your wall onto the center section (NOT within one of the two 4x6 boxes).
7. Use the corner handles to drag your wall photo size to fill the space (does not have to be exact, just as close as possible).
8. Now you have your wall set up and you can begin dragging, sizing, and placing the artwork photos onto the wall.
9. In the right-hand toolbar, scroll up to the "Cells" section and click the 2x4 button right under the words, "Add to Package."
10. This will create a second page in your main window with the new, blank, 2x4 frame in it.
11. Click and drag that blank frame onto your wall approximately where you'll want your first print placed (you'll be able to re-arrange as needed later).
12. Repeat steps 9-11 until you have as many blank frames as you need for the number of art pieces you are arranging on your wall.
13. Now click on each one of the blank frames and make sure the "Lock to Photo Aspect Ratio" checkbox is checked in the "Cells" section.
14. One-by-one, drag the prints you want on the wall into a blank frame. Because you locked the photo aspect ratio in Step 13, the frame will change direction based on whether the print is landscape or portrait.
15. Appropriately size each picture you've dragged onto the wall using the corner handles on each one. This "sizing" is based on the assumption that you know the approximate dimensions of the wall and the sizes of the pictures relative to the wall and any other elements in the wall photo,
16. Click and drag the photos into various positions on the wall to see which arrangements look best.
17. You can also drag different pictures onto the frames (even those with pictures already in them). This will replace the picture in the frame with the new one. You may have to resize, etc., if the new picture is a different size or rotated differently.
18. You can remove pictures from the arrangement by clicking in the picture and pressing the DEL key.
19. You can add more pictures to the arrangement by using Steps 9-11.

Step 5: Use Lightroom to print out the arrangement as a template when you're ready to hang your art.
When you have your final version, click the "Print to File" button near the bottom right in Lightroom's Print module, then select the appropriate options (i.e., jpg as a file type, location to save, etc.). You can then print the template. I had two or three possible arrangements I liked and printed them all so I could discuss the arrangements with my husband before he hung them.

Here's a screenshot from Lightroom, showing most of the menu
items and another version of the wall arrangement for the picture above:

Blog for Arranging Artwork -2

I can provide 1-5 different picture arrangements on your wall using the prints of mine that you are purchasing and any other artwork you want to include in the grouping. These will be provided as photos in an email to you and you can download them and print them out to help you decide which arrangement you like best.

Step 1: Select one or more of my prints to purchase.
You do NOT have to purchase these prior to contacting me, but you do have to know which prints you want in your arrangement.

Step 2: Use the tools on my website to add matting and a frame or canvas print style.
You do NOT have to purchase the frame or matting, but using the tools to frame your art as you plan to have it framed on your wall will allow you to get a better idea of how your final arrangement will look.

Step 3: Take a screenshot of your framed print and save it as a jpeg file.

Step 4: Use the "Contact" link on my website to email me that you want me to make wall arrangement(s) for you.
Be sure to send me your email address so I can contact you with the next steps. Include any questions you may have, too.

Step 5: Take a picture of your wall.
This should be a straight-on picture that shows the wall, ceiling to floor, and includes any furniture, lamps, etc., that will be part of the arrangement.

Step 6: Take a picture of any other artwork you will be hanging with the print from my website.
These should be straight-on photos.

Step 7: Crop the picture of the wall (if there are things in the picture that shouldn't be there), the screenshot of my print(s) with frame(s), and any other artwork you photographed.
The artwork should be cropped so that nothing but the artwork and frame shows. The wall photo should be straight on of the wall and any furniture, lamps, etc., that will be part of the arrangement.

Once I receive your email with contact information, I will email you back with additional instructions so you can get your wall and artwork photos to me to arrange for you.

I hope you enjoyed this Lightroom tip. If you want to comment, you'll find contact information on my website, below.

Susan Molnar Fine Art Photography

Photography Tools Starting with Adobe Lightroom

December 6th, 2015

Photography Tools Starting with Adobe Lightroom


Almost two years ago, I took up photography as a hobby. I knew there would be a lot to learn, and at various points over those 24 or so months, I thought I had learned the basics and even ventured into more complex areas. But each time I thought I had this photography thing nailed, I found whole new topics, tools, and techniques to learn that would vastly improve my photographic results.

By now I realize I'm barely beyond beginner, but I thought it might be helpful to share some of those topics, tools, and techniques I have learned with any of you who are either new to DSLR photography or who want to get past the "point and shoot in Auto" mode. To that end, I'll dedicate my next few monthly blogs to doing that. The first tool I'd like to share with you is Adobe Lightroom, which I find completely indispensable.

What is Lightroom?
First, what is Lightroom? Lightroom is the digital photographer's equivalent of the film photographer's darkrooms. With Lightroom, the digital photographer can take a surprising amount of control over the final results of their photos, just like film photographers do in their darkrooms. Things like exposure, white balance, clarity, contrast, color vibrancy and saturation, lens and camera corrections, and much, much more, can be fine-tuned with Lightroom.

Why Would I Want to Use it?
Digital photographers refer to the work they do in Lightroom (and other, similar tools including Photoshop), as "post processing." Just as with film photography, post processing can't make a poor photograph into a work of art. But it CAN turn that "perfect moment" shot you took that turned out horribly over- or under-exposed into a salvageable photo memory. It CAN turn a good shot into something you would be proud to hang on your wall. And it CAN help turn a beautifully composed and shot art photograph into a prize-winning shot.

What Photos Can be Processed with Lightroom?
While any digital photograph, including your old family photos scanned into digital format, can benefit from Lightroom processing, the greatest benefit is usually achieved with photographs saved in RAW format with your DSLR camera. The reason RAW format (as opposed to JPEG format) allows more Lightroom control is because it retains all the digital information that was available when the picture was taken. JPEG format does not retain all the information. Having that information allows Lightroom to "regain" detail in the photo that appears to be lost due to over- or under-processing. So those whited-out or almost black areas of your photo can usually be "fixed!" I've included a before and after here just as an example of one of the many types of improvements you can make to your photos.

BEFORE: I had been shooting flying birds in bright sunlight at the beach,
so my camera was set to ISO 100 and a fast shutter speed.
Obviously, not enough light for this shot of a bird in the shade of a tree!

Palm Beach_002.jpg

AFTER: Because I saved this in RAW format, I was able to retrieve
all the blacked-out detail and save this shot with just a few clicks in Lightroom!

What is RAW Format?
If you're not sure what I mean by RAW format, check your DSLR camera's settings menu - you should be able to find a setting to save your images in RAW format rather than in JPEG format. Basically, it is your camera's native image format. Many cameras also allow you to save your images in both RAW and JPEG. This, of course, takes up more space on your memory card, but might be worth it if you're not sure you want all your images in RAW.

Where do I Get Lightroom?
Lightroom is an Adobe product and they sell it two ways. First (and their preferred method) is a subscription. The bad thing is that it's a subscription. The good thing is that you get BOTH Lightroom and Photoshop. Second is by buying the software and installing it on your computer. You can get this directly from Adobe (although they make it hard to find, since they prefer to sell subscriptions) or on Amazon and other similar sites. The current version is 6.1 and the 6.x series is, unfortunately, the last version they plan to offer as a stand-alone. The same is true for Photoshop.

Is it Difficult to Learn?
Lightroom, like all sophisticated software, has a TON of functionality that has evolved over time. This means that there is a lot to learn and that will take time. However, much of the functionality is somewhat intuitive, and Adobe and many, many other sites offer truly EXCELLENT tutorials, both free and paid. I've included a couple of those sites below, including some video tutorials by Julianne Kost, whose videos are among the best around. But if you google it, you'll find so many more!

What Do You Think?
I hope you enjoyed this brief introduction to Lightroom. There are so many good tutorials out there and above are just two on Lightroom. You can check these out and google to find lots more. If you want to comment, you'll find contact information on my website, below.

Susan Molnar Fine Art Photography